LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - August is typically the hottest time of year when student-athletes began football practice.
But it's a safety concern one viewer shared, as she posed a question about the possibility of a later start date for school and sports activities. So, 11 Listens looked into the matter.
In Arkansas, the month of August means two things: the start of a new school year and football season. But it's also a prime time for heat illness for young athletes.
A viewer, concerned about their health asked, "Why not start near the end of September?"
“The start date of school is set by the Arkansas Department of Education. It can vary, and schools can apply for waivers if it doesn't fit their specific situation," said Steve Roberts, Associate Executive Director for the Arkansas Activities Association. Under state law schools cannot start before August 14 or after August 26.
But Roberts said it doesn't coincide with the start of sports seasons that is set by the AAA. “Each school in our state gets a vote and the sports seasons are set by majority vote every two years," said Roberts.
Aside from adding a week zero to create flexibility to the schedule, not much has changed over the years. “We actually start later than most of the states in the south. There are many states around us that start as early as two weeks prior to when we start," he added.
Football practice began July 31 this year, but Roberts said safety measures are always in place to protect student-athletes from the heat.
“All our coaches are educated on sudden cardiac heat illness opportunities concussion and communicable diseases,” he said. Each have to pass a course and get certified in those areas every three years.
But Roberts said their main concern is making sure they don't overlap between sports, giving students the option to play more than one sport. “So, we start as soon as we can and we try to take those 16 sports and spread them out over the course of the school year and it's very difficult to get all those championships inside that school year now,” said Roberts.
They also want to make sure football season ends before the holidays begin. So, while some wish things could be different, there's a lot to consider at the start of the school year.
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